A large and growing number of veterans and their families are coping with Post-Traumatic Stress, and other related illnesses from combat-induced trauma. Add to that the countless other Americans who have experienced some type of traumatic event, such as first-responders (e.g. firefighters, police officers, paramedics) and you have a health crisis of considerable proportions.
In 2011, Filmmaker and educator Benjamin Patton began a pilot film-making program designed especially for combat veterans being treated for Post Traumatic Stress at Army Warrior Transition Units (WTUs). It is our belief that collaborating on production of narrative short films can help soldiers with PTSD cope with traumatic and often overwhelming memories associated with their deployment in a therapeutically beneficial way.
Over the course of a week, participating soldiers learn both theoretical and technical aspects of narrative film-making and collaborate with one another to conceive, shoot, edit and score short films which articulate the aspects of their process most important to them.
Our experienced film instructors, supported by resident social workers and medical personnel, work closely with the soldiers, helping to facilitate their storytelling process as they ‘unpack’ and ‘repack’ their often-traumatic memories, and reframe their personal narrative as only they are qualified to do.
Following each workshop, participants are invited to screen and discuss their films. Each participant also completes a pre- and post-workshop survey during the workshop and is invited to provide and on-camera testimonial about their experience – all of which is designed to assess their experience and enable us to continually improve our model.
To date, we have held three very successful IWT workshops at the Fort Carson WTU, with additional workshops planned for 2013. We are also exploring doing similar workshops designed specifically for military spouses and families. Our immediate goal, once funding is secured, is to expand to other WTUs, VA hospitals, Reserve and National Guard unit facilities, and eventually other service branches, enabling us to quantify the therapeutic value of this program and help as many recovering veterans and their families as possible.
The long-term goal is to establish partnerships with other like-minded organizations and institutions doing complementary work and broaden awareness of our work to ensure that narrative filmmaking is broadly accepted as an integrative medicine treatment modality for PTSD.
The I WAS THERE Filmmaking Workshops are an initiative of the newly established Patton Veterans Project, Inc. For more information, contact Benjamin Patton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 646-449-8069 or by mail c/o Patton Productions, 248 East 90th Street, New York, NY 10128 USA.
Please take a moment to watch a few testimonials from soldiers who have participated in our workshop:
IWT Testimonials 2012 v3 from I WAS THERE Films on Vimeo.